BOONSBORO, Md. — A singer’s voice sailed from a stage across Shafer Memorial Park in Boonsboro.
“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” he sang.
But clearly, there would be no paradise paving here.
Not among members of the Boonsboro Recycling Task Force and the 3,500 or so who gathered Saturday to support the group’s fourth annual Boonsboro Green Fest.
The task force was established in 2007 to address a dispute regarding a Dumpster and to serve as a proponent of curbside recycling for the town, Barbara Wetzel said.
Wetzel, a task force member and co-chairwoman of the Green Fest committee, said the event was initiated only as an outreach of the group.
“This event never would have happened if our group hadn’t gotten together to work on recycling,” she said. “Green Fest was a way to educate and inform people.”
Co-chairwoman Janeen Solberg said she hoped “maybe a couple dozen” vendors would attend the first event. Response was overwhelming, with 87 vendors participating. This year, that number ballooned to 142 vendors along with 55 sponsors.
“Everywhere you look, there are volunteers,” Solberg said. “Schoolteachers, Boy Scouts, people from church. I can’t believe how people have become involved.”
Green Fest features included speakers, clothing and sports equipment swaps, a recycling collection zone, musical entertainment and a kids zone with earth-friendly activities.
A parking lot at the entrance to the park was piled high with separated televisions, bicycles, Styrofoam packaging, wire hangers, plastic plant containers and more. Area businesses and organizations that dealt with each kind of item were on hand to pick up the donations and make use of them.
A number of people stopped to check out a charger connected to a solar-powered car at the mtvSolar vendor booth. Michelle Liefke of the Berkeley Springs, W.Va.-based company, said people were interested in learning about federal and state tax credits for solar panels for their homes and businesses. The company pulls satellite images of properties to assess solar potential.
Liefke said she thinks people are beginning to understand that solar power is “easy, approachable and affordable.”
“The cost of fuel keeps rising and fossil fuels are finite,” she said. “The first sunny hour of the day can take care of global demand for a whole year.”
Liefke said Green Fest has quickly become popular among conservationists.
“Just this little Boonsboro Green Fest is unique and impressive,” Liefke said. “It’s definitely made an impact. It’s known for being a source of understanding sustainability.”
Rhea Lightner, 32, of Williamsport, said she and her partner, Mike Pereschuk, 42, recycle, grow some of their own food and make vegan dietary choices to reflect how they feel about the environment as well as morals and ethics. Lightner said she was glad the event was happening.
“It’s very important. It’s great to be able to come here and buy from vendors who are making things locally that I didn’t even know about,” Lightner said. “Attendance reflects how people feel about the environment and sustainability. I’m feeling optimistic.”
Amy Rice, 47, of Boonsboro, said she attended the event out of curiosity and signed up for a free energy audit. She also found a lot of “great plants” she planned to buy for her garden.
Laura Palmer, 12, of Sharpsburg, and her friend, Mariah Marshall, 12, of Boonsboro, said they thought the festival was “a cool way to learn more about recycling.”
“This will get the town to recycle more so we can save the world’s resources and not pollute the earth,” Laura said.
The task force responsible for the event also has been successful in its efforts to promote curbside recycling. The service is set to begin July 1, Wetzel said.